Steve Jobs reportedly mulled axing Apple's pro products

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
In a blog post on Friday, former Apple ad consultant Ken Segall reveals Steve Jobs once considered killing off the company's professional product offerings, including the Mac Pro and software like Final Cut Pro.

Mac Pro
Apple's forthcoming Mac Pro. | Source: Apple


Apple has long been known as one of the few computer makers to cater to both consumers and professional users, but Segall says that at one point, Jobs had reservations about continuing the company's pro lineup.

"His rationale was as you might expect: consumer products have an unlimited upside, while pro products are aimed at a niche market that eats up major resources," Segall says.

Jobs weighed the options before airing his idea at an ad agency meeting. This was apparently during a time when Apple's iMac had just become a global bestseller.

"Obviously, the pro market has value for Apple, even if its numbers are relatively small," Segall notes. "Pros are opinion leaders, influencers and evangelists. Their love of Apple shows up in the purchase decisions of friends, family and colleagues."

In the end, Jobs obviously decided to stick with the program, though Segall suggests Apple's philosophy on what it considers "pro" may have changed over the years. For example, the latest Final Cut X has been streamlined with an easy-to-use interface moving toward the look of iMovie. Professional users were vocal about the changes Apple made to the vaunted program, but the decisions, as well as the lower price of entry, brought in a wider audience.

A similar change is coming in hardware as the Mac Pro finally gets a redesign after years of being passed over. The new sleek black cylinder boasts a user-friendly design with easy expansion via six Thunderbolt 2 ports, four USB 3.0 ports and two Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Unlike the previous Mac Pro, the next-generation model has little to upgrade internally, but it does offer a consumer-minded design. Some professional users may be turned off by the changes, but the tweaks could bring renewed consumer interest in standalone towers, a segment of the industry moving toward extinction.

Segall ends with a provoking thought. Of all the pro products, Apple has killed off only one major hardware design: the 17-inch MacBook Pro.

"Unless you believe that in the future pros will suddenly prefer working on smaller screens, it?s hard to see this as a positive development," Segall writes. "Of course all will be forgiven if that little baby were to come back, all nice and Retina-ized?"
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 132
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Jobs considered various options before making decisions.

    Why is that news to anyone?
  • Reply 2 of 132
    snovasnova Posts: 1,281member


    could be argued either way if you look at the technology that came out of the NeXT acquisition.

  • Reply 3 of 132
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

    Jobs considered various options before making decisions.



    Why is that news to anyone?


     


    Indeed, and this particular consideration shouldn't be surprising at all. It seems like something he would have thought up in the first place. Seems a shame to want to destroy something so great and industry-leading as Final Cut and Logic are, but Jobs was also a pragmatist. In '96, after the NeXT purchase but before being declared interim CEO, he said it might be a good idea to let the cloners do their thing. "Apple should strive to just make better hardware than any of them!" or something along those lines. He also said "milk the Mac for all it's worth and move on to the next great thing." Really, that last one could be argued as happening. I don't see the traditional keyboard+mouse+computer setup lasting beyond 2020.

  • Reply 4 of 132
    poochpooch Posts: 768member
    i'm gonna go out on a limb here and submit for debate that steve often considered many things.
  • Reply 5 of 132
    cyniccynic Posts: 124member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Indeed, and this particular consideration shouldn't be surprising at all. It seems like something he would have thought up in the first place. Seems a shame to want to destroy something so great and industry-leading as Final Cut and Logic are, but Jobs was also a pragmatist. In '96, after the NeXT purchase but before being declared interim CEO, he said it might be a good idea to let the cloners do their thing. "Apple should strive to just make better hardware than any of them!" or something along those lines. He also said "milk the Mac for all it's worth and move on to the next great thing." Really, that last one could be argued as happening. I don't see the traditional keyboard+mouse+computer setup lasting beyond 2020.



     


    Just don't underestimate the "Pro" that actually need a classic desktop in order to create and produce. I'm not seeing the need for classic work stations for essential things, such as software development going away any time soon. My guess is we'll still see them around long after 2020, just perhaps not in households that much but at workplaces. Certainly they will also cost a premium by then.

  • Reply 6 of 132
    If they bring back the 17" MacBook pro with a retina display, I'll forgo my overseas trip next year. I want on of those baby's so bad
  • Reply 7 of 132

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    In a blog post on Friday, former Apple ad consultant Ken Segall reveals Steve Jobs once considered killing off the company's professional product offerings, including the Mac Pro and software like Final Cut Pro.

    [...]


    Segall ends with a provoking thought. Of all the pro products, Apple has killed off only one major hardware design: the 17-inch MacBook Pro.




    "Unless you believe that in the future pros will suddenly prefer working on smaller screens, it?s hard to see this as a positive development," Segall writes. "Of course all will be forgiven if that little baby were to come back, all nice and Retina-ized?"


    If the screens were better they would.


     


    That's the same logic that people use when they ask for 5" iPhones (a few people want them), and we know how apple considers that modality..


     


    And the math for a 17" Retina display would be around 3456x2160, which would be pretty computationally heavy.


     


    Sounds like someone loved his 17" at one time.

  • Reply 8 of 132
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Indeed, and this particular consideration shouldn't be surprising at all. It seems like something he would have thought up in the first place. Seems a shame to want to destroy something so great and industry-leading as Final Cut and Logic are, but Jobs was also a pragmatist.

    For example, I always felt that dropping Pippin and Newton was a mistake, but they had to focus.
  • Reply 9 of 132

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    I don't see the traditional keyboard+mouse+computer setup lasting beyond 2020.



     


    If Uncle Fester is still heading up MS there will be dinosaurs around, even if MS is the only company making them. 

  • Reply 10 of 132
    eng12eng12 Posts: 2member
    The return of the 17" MacBook Pro would be great. 4k screen, 16x10 aspect ratio, and the ability to have 2 PCI-e disks. If they can get 12 hours of runtime out of it, even better. I hope they are working on it. My current 2009 17" needs to last until they release something that can replace it.
  • Reply 11 of 132
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,125member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Indeed, and this particular consideration shouldn't be surprising at all. It seems like something he would have thought up in the first place. Seems a shame to want to destroy something so great and industry-leading as Final Cut and Logic are, but Jobs was also a pragmatist. In '96, after the NeXT purchase but before being declared interim CEO, he said it might be a good idea to let the cloners do their thing. "Apple should strive to just make better hardware than any of them!" or something along those lines. He also said "milk the Mac for all it's worth and move on to the next great thing." Really, that last one could be argued as happening. I don't see the traditional keyboard+mouse+computer setup lasting beyond 2020.



     


    For some time Alex Lindsay (owner of PixelCorps and a huge Apple fan) has theorized that Jobs' ultimate goal was to replace Windows after their iOS products were widely used and they were less dependent on desktop and laptop computer hardware for revenue. He guessed that Apple would release OSX as either open source or license it to run on Windows boxes.

  • Reply 12 of 132

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kiraniumbra View Post



    If they bring back the 17" MacBook pro with a retina display, I'll forgo my overseas trip next year. I want on of those baby's so bad


    It's like carrying around your own tombstone. Apple was right to kill it! :)

  • Reply 13 of 132
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,088member


    Okay, time for a rant. So-called "pros" are never satisfied with anything. They perpetually bitch and whine about whatever they use as unable to meet their needs. Every Mac ever released as a pro machine was met with derision and plain old hatred with the yet to be released new Mac Pro being dragged over the coals as well.  Jobs should have canceled the pro line of products so Apple could concentrate on their core constituency, average users. Apple doesn't need the negative PR from these whining prima donnas. Let them build their own claptrap Frankenstein monsters. Then they would have no one to bitch to except themselves. 


     


    Just look at some of the crap being touted and demanded in this very thread.

  • Reply 14 of 132
    tribalogicaltribalogical Posts: 1,181member
    Sure he did. It has been consistently shown that Jobs always enjoyed a good "thought experiment", and entertained them regularly. They are good for business.
  • Reply 15 of 132
    see flatsee flat Posts: 145member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post


    Okay, time for a rant. So-called "pros" are never satisfied with anything. They perpetually bitch and whine about whatever they use as unable to meet their needs. Every Mac ever released as a pro machine was met with derision and plain old hatred with the yet to be released new Mac Pro being dragged over the coals as well.  Jobs should have canceled the pro line of products so Apple could concentrate on their core constituency, average users. Apple doesn't need the negative PR from these whining prima donnas. Let them build their own claptrap Frankenstein monsters. Then they would have no one to bitch to except themselves. 


     


    Just look at some of the crap being touted and demanded in this very thread.



    So-called "pros" ? I assume you are a So-called "fanboy" and you think you can do everything on your iPad or mac mini. 


     


    People are entitled to opinions, just as you are. Having a pro devision is like engine, brake, tire, oil manufactures participating in F1 racing. It is R&D and the technology moved forward in the pro devision trickles down to those toys you love using. 

  • Reply 16 of 132
    It's like carrying around your own tombstone. Apple was right to kill it! :)
    , true, but it wouldn't be moved that much, just occasionally. I just like the screen size. Not so big as my wife's Qosimo, not so small as my old compaq
  • Reply 17 of 132
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,219moderator
    jragosta wrote:
    Jobs considered various options before making decisions.

    Why is that news to anyone?

    Quite a few people condemn Tim Cook whenever something happens they don't like and follow it up with "Steve understood our needs". This shows that Steve had no such affection towards people who perceive themselves as having seen Apple through its darkest days. The unfortunate truth is that those high-end machines led to Apple's darkest days because they were very expensive, had a very small market and weren't unique enough from beige PC boxes, which were significantly cheaper. The iMac was the revolution that brought Apple back from the brink:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/01/14/apple_chalks_up_123_million/

    Based on that success, Steve could have canned the high-end line years before the G5 arrived and the iPod + iPhone + iMac + iBook + iPad would have still driven them to the success they've had.
    Unlike the previous Mac Pro, the next-generation model has little to upgrade internally, but it does offer a consumer-minded design. Some professional users may be turned off by the changes, but the tweaks could bring renewed consumer interest in standalone towers, a segment of the industry moving toward extinction.

    It's not just about mainstream appeal, Apple has to design machines around the technology and where it's going. A $2k+ computer will never be mass-market. The Mac Pro is designed for raw power so only power components need to go inside. They are committed to Thunderbolt and those devices go outside but people buying for peripherals make up a fraction of the MP userbase. They are effectively redesigning it better for the largest proportion of Mac Pro buyers and should offer better performance-per-dollar, it's not for a new consumer audience at all although I'm sure it will get some new buyers.

    Compute power will become so inexpensive in the next few years that the form factor doesn't matter any more and it's why laptops now make up 75%+ of all computer sales.
    Segall ends with a provoking thought. Of all the pro products, Apple has killed off only one major hardware design: the 17-inch MacBook Pro.

    "Unless you believe that in the future pros will suddenly prefer working on smaller screens, it?s hard to see this as a positive development," Segall writes. "Of course all will be forgiven if that little baby were to come back, all nice and Retina-ized?"

    A 17" display is still a small display for working with all the time and the 15" now has the same resolution. The 17" is typically described as a desktop replacement whereas the 15" isn't but when they are next to each other, there's very little practical difference:


    [VIDEO]


    A 17" display isn't a replacement for a 22-27" desktop display. Every 17" display they made was a TN panel so not good at all for any kind of professional image/video work. With the high-res IPS 15", there's certainly far less need now to offer a physically larger model and they tend to prefer having as few model variations as possible so they can manage inventory more easily.
  • Reply 18 of 132
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,151member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post


    Okay, time for a rant. So-called "pros" are never satisfied with anything. They perpetually bitch and whine about whatever they use as unable to meet their needs. Every Mac ever released as a pro machine was met with derision and plain old hatred with the yet to be released new Mac Pro being dragged over the coals as well.  Jobs should have canceled the pro line of products so Apple could concentrate on their core constituency, average users. Apple doesn't need the negative PR from these whining prima donnas. Let them build their own claptrap Frankenstein monsters. Then they would have no one to bitch to except themselves. 


     


    Just look at some of the crap being touted and demanded in this very thread.



     


    You've said something I've been tempted to say for a long time, but always just held my tongue. It's pretty disgusting how even with how innovative the next Pro is, pretty much every forum comment I've seen is negative, and bashing it, because people can't think outside the fucking box and want a variation of something they've always had, even when the changes would overall be a massive longterm improvement for both users and the industry. The new Mac Pro form factor has so many advantages, as well as incredible flexibility, yet all the haters can do is think of uncommon "what if" scenarios, to conclude that the machine is useless. Being able to hook up external thunderbolt 2 devices, at nearly the same speeds as PCIe, gives so much more flexibility and expansion options. 


     


    And yeah, it doesn't shock me that SJ considered cancelling the Pro line. Then again, Apple is an incredible company because it constantly reconsiders and reasseses everything- even the unthinkable. It's the only way you can be sure that you're not following pre-conceived notions about something, and re-evaluating tends to lead to new insights, questions, ideas, and conclusions. I'm sure Apple also considered making a 20" iPad- doesn't mean they will do it, but considering something seriously forces you to make a list of pros and cons, thus clarifying exactly why something may or may not be useful or feasible. 

  • Reply 19 of 132
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    It's like carrying around your own tombstone. {17" MBP} Apple was right to kill it! :)

    I disagree. I have a 2006 17" MBP and it's not unreasonably large. I assume that a newer one would be much thinner and lighter so it would be even less of a problem.

    It was apparently dropped due to lack of demand rather than due to its large size, per se.
  • Reply 20 of 132
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member


    I guess he decided the pros outweighed the cons.

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